Question: What does a data Analyst/programmer do?

  1. Not a very exciting title is it? Not like “game designer” or “forensic pathologist” but it describes my job well enough.

    I do analyze a lot of data though, mostly that which has been collected by others or generated by computer models I or others have run. “Analyze” really means I look at the data, be it numerically or visually. And visually really does mean by eye. You really can not beat the human eye and brain to pick out patterns or connections so I generate and look at many plots and movies of my data. That is where the “programmer” comes in.

    I write lots and lots and lots and _lots_ of computer code in a tool called Matlab (see link 1) below). It allows me to read in large amounts of data quickly and then manipulate it in many ways [read: do some maths on it] and also plot the data. Often I’ll need to transform the data, more maths, so that its in the appropriate units or values to compare with other data. This often is very important when comparing model data with “real world” data especially biological data. Living things don’t always follow the rule we think they do, so we have to be careful how we compare that information with what our models describe.

    The whole “Data Analyst/Programmer” thing really means I am a generalist more than a specialist. I have to be good at many different things, not just programming, maths and earth science but also knowledgeable about many related technologies and “web” related areas. This is called “multi-skilled” these days in the job market. I often call myself “a jack of all trades, master of none”. We all have to be that now a days, we have to be both tech savvy and science savvy as many sciences have become so dependent on technology. It is hard to keep up sometimes.




  1. I think data analysis is very interesting (and very important) even if there aren’t fancy shows on TV about it 🙂

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  2. Thanks very helpful now I understand

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  3. Looking at “big data” is a hot topic these days. We now have so much data, but cannot make sense of it all. Have a look at for working with big data.

    Of course, there is also the somewhat creepy story of how Target figured out a teen girl was pregnant before her father did:

    What else do you think Coles/Woolworth/Target/Facebook knows about you that you thought was secret? There is even some research in looking at Facebook updates to predict when two people will breakup!!!

    Now, I am starting to wonder what Dirk might have dug up on all of us!


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    • o.o;


      umm … nothing ^.^ … unless you happen to be a fish susceptible to temperature changes

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